Do you know the difference between the large and small toilet button?

Does using the small flush handle instead of the large one in the toilet really make any difference?

A flushing toilet (photo credit: JARLHELM/CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)/VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)
A flushing toilet
(photo credit: JARLHELM/CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)/VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)

What is the difference between the small and large flush handle/button on the toilet?

You may be surprised to hear that more than half of the respondents in a survey conducted in Britain by Thames Water did not know how to answer this question, and those who tried to answer according to common sense were wrong. 

Those who assume or know that the small handle is intended for flushing water in smaller amounts are right. The large handle is more suitable for poo and usually flush six liters of water (full tank) compared to the small one, which flushes three liters. Most of the respondents were unable to get over the meaning of the matter: saving water. The small handle is designed to save water when there is no real need to use a full tank.

Andrew Tucker, Thames Water's water efficiency manager, tried to find the cause of the mistake:

"There are so many different types of toilets out there, it's no surprise that people don't know which button to press," he said. "In many cases, what seems like the obvious option to flush water is actually quicker and uses a larger amount of water. The large handle usually results in the use of six liters of water, while the small one uses half that amount, so it is important that we all know how to use them correctly in order to reduce the amount of water we consume to a minimum."

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The importance of limiting water usage

“Water is not an infinite resource and many people seem to assume it is.”

Andrew Tucker, water efficiency manager, Thames Water

"Every drop we use comes from rivers, streams and underground water reservoirs, and high water extraction may have a detrimental effect on them," he said. "Water is not an infinite resource and many people seem to assume it is."